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TVs To Push 3D, Green Design, Interactivity At CES

The 2010 International CES should prove to be a dynamic showcase for digital television technology as the category takes its next evolutionary steps following completion of the transition to digital broadcasting.

Fueled by the hype surrounding the release of producer/director James Cameron’s 3D live-action/CGI adventure “Avatar,” 3D TV for the home is expected to be among the biggest new trends to emerge this year.

Major companies such as LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony have already discussed plans to enter the 3D TV space, with sets that conform to the new 3D Blu-ray specifications. Others, including Mitsubishi and Samsung, have already been marketing 3D-ready displays configured to present video games and a handful of movie titles released in the stereoscopic domain.

Third-party partners RealD, CrystalEyes, Xpand and others will be preparing active-shutter eyewear that many of the new 3D systems will require to get the three-dimensional effect.

Other companies including Nvidia will showcase a “3D ecosystem” of components (see p. 62) consisting of active-shutter glasses, hardware support for multiple display types, and support for 3D Blu-ray movies and more than 400 games.

Another evolving and expanding video trend will be connected TVs and video source components that bring access to a range of streaming and/or download video services, as well as interactive “widgets” that deliver a plethora of online features and information services to TV screens.

As Yahoo!, a leader in the widgets technology space, observed, “2010 will be a critical year for manufacturers, developers and consumers alike.”

“The focus will shift from validating the technology to increasing distribution and creating compelling content through engaging a robust publisher ecosystem,” according to a Yahoo! spokesperson. “In the next year, contextually relevant data, greater network tie-ins and more social activity will add immense value to the overall Internet-connected TV experience.”

New widgets on tap will span numerous categories, including video-on-demand, social networking, news and entertainment, Yahoo said.

Following the recent passage of the California Energy Commission’s controversial power-consumption laws, and in line with previously established federal EnergyStar guidelines, the TV industry will also place greater emphasis on green TV designs this year.

Expect a full-out blitz on new lines of energy-efficient LED-backlit LCD TVs and plasma sets that use significantly less power to operate while providing thinner form factors. Some panel thicknesses will approach an inch or less.

In source devices, Blu-ray Disc players will be in greater supply, with the majority now fully BD Live (profile 2.0) compliant, offering the ability to connect players to the Internet to take advantage of a range of interactive extras. As mentioned, many step-up models will also add on-line movie and TV program streaming services for sets that don’t have the capability built in.

The floor will also be awash in new camcorder and digital camera introductions. Look for camcorders with flash memory or built-in hard disk drives to virtually supplant older tape- and disk-based models, enabling smaller form factors and Internet-uploading convenience.

Also look for a proliferation of value-priced pocket-video camera products to take advantage of the new opportunities initiated by Cisco’s Flip Video, Kodak and others.

In digital cameras, the emphasis will be on two ends of the business — entry-level models that bring a range of formerly step-up features into high-volume price points, and advanced point-and-shoots that leverage the capabilities of new CMOS imaging chip technologies to make photo taking both easier and more creative.